Asbestos is a mineral compound once famous for its heat-resistant qualities. The ancient Greeks called it the miracle mineral because of its soft pliability and its strong resistance to heat. They christened the mineral asbestos, which means inextinguishable.
Throughout the ages, asbestos has been prized for its extremely effective insulating qualities as well as its resistance to damage from chemicals and electricity. It is excellent for soundproofing, possesses a high tensile strength, and can be used to manufacture all sorts of products and building materials used in industry and the home.
Asbestos is composed of long, fibrous crystals that are remarkably lightweight and easy to adapt to many industrial uses.
The mineral was once widely used in the building industry for insulation, siding and roofing shingles. These building materials produced homes, schools, hospitals, churches, and many other public and private buildings whose manufacture spanned at least 100 years.
Almost every industry and the military used it for electrical insulation. The automotive industry made brake shoes and gaskets with it.
In the home, flame-retardant fabrics made from asbestos were made into draperies, upholstery, carpeting, bedding, and clothing. Electrical ovens and other heat-producing appliances were insulated with asbestos.
In spite of its many uses, there is one incredibly tragic problem with asbestos. Those long, lightweight crystals become airborne during the manufacturing process, entering the lungs and respiratory passages of anyone in the vicinity.
And anyone doing the laundry or cleaning up after someone who has worked with the substance is at risk, too. So are people who handle the fabrics made from asbestos.
Those airborne particles lead to a crippling respiratory condition known as asbestosis, which often progresses to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity.
The link between asbestos and deadly mesothelioma were known as long ago as 1898 but manufacturers were unwilling at that time to find alternative materials or safeguard workers’ health.
The first lawsuit filed against a manufacturer of asbestos products didn’t happen until 1929. Since then, asbestos attorneys and their clients have fought long and hard for safer working conditions and safer products.
Asbestos attorneys have been working with exposure cases around the world since the 1960s. As a result of their efforts, the use of asbestos has been virtually eliminated in the industrialized world.
Unfortunately, the hazard of asbestos is insidious, with symptoms of exposure often remaining hidden for decades. By the time diagnosis is made, the patient is often too close to death for any form of treatment other than comfort care.
Even with the halted use of the mineral, asbestos attorneys remain very active, working on the behalf of ill employees seeking restitution and medical care from the employers who used asbestos.
No longer as famous for its heat-resistant qualities as for its deadly consequences, asbestos remains in the news and controversial.
Manufacturers have billions of dollars allocated for assistance to stricken employees but they are reluctant to release payment without tenacious intervention by the patients’ asbestos attorneys.
Asbestos attorneys stay busy fighting objections to medical diagnoses, degree of culpability, and allocation of monetary awards.